We are now mid-way through the legislative session. The crossover deadline for passing bills, including budgets, out of committees and on the full floor of the House, was last week.
Here are some of the bills my committee, General, Housing, & Military Affairs, focused on: instituting paid family and medical leave; protecting survivors of domestic and sexual violence from housing discrimination; amending the process of election for the Adjutant General of Vermont’s National Guard to include a vetting committee; updating penalties for violations for alcohol and tobacco laws; and securing honorable burials at the Vermont Veterans Memorial Cemetery for any unclaimed veterans’ remains.
Among other House bills passed on the floor: highlights include affordable childcare initiatives; preserving the current legal rights to abortion; expungement of criminal records for low level offenses; weatherization subsidies for aging housing stock for low income Vermonters; developing ethnic and social studies standards for schools and training to insure fair and impartial policing; taxing e-cigarettes and disallowing their sale on the internet; and many more. These bills now go over to the Senate for their review, consideration, and modifications.
For a full list of bills passed, visit the Vermont General Assembly website’s “Bills and Resolutions” section. Literally hundreds of other bills introduced by representatives have been assigned to the various policy committees in the House but are still on the “wall” and may (or may not) be picked up later this session or next year as part of the current biennium of Vermont’s General Assembly.
Major bills coming over from the Senate for House consideration include: raising the minimum wage to $15 in 2024; taxing and regulating marijuana; raising the smoking age to 21 for both cigarettes and e-cigarettes, requiring a 24-hour waiting period when purchasing a gun; and Indigenous Peoples’ Day replacing Columbus Day. The committee on which I sit, General, Housing, & Military Affairs, will be doing a deep dive on some of these, including minimum wage.
As a new legislator, I try to visit as many programs as possible in South Burlington. As housing is a central focus on my committee work, I recently visited Allard Square Senior Housing and Beacon Apartments. Cathedral Square’s Allard Square Senior Housing opened last fall. I visited with staff and one of the tenants and learned more about the nationally-acclaimed program offering a variety of programs providing Support and Services at Home.
Representatives Maida Townsend and Martin LaLonde joined me on the site visit to the Beacon Apartments, a model of supportive housing for the chronically homeless. Beacon is a collaborative project of Champlain Housing Trust, Burlington Housing Authority and the Community Health Centers of Burlington. One of the tenants, who was homeless for five years, invited us into his apartment and shared his journey, describing how the integrated services have made this a win for him and other tenants.
Finally, Representative Ann Pugh and I had a wonderful evening at the South Burlington Friends of the Arts Visual and Performing Arts Gala. Now in its second year, proceeds of the event provide need-based scholarship for South Burlington High School students pursuing the arts. Kudos to Patrick Leduc and the committee for making this happen.
I am eager for constituents’ input. Email me at email@example.com, call me at home: 802 862-2254, or join me and your other legislators at our next monthly meeting at the South Burlington Public Library on Monday, April 22, from 6:30 to 8 p.m.